One of the first things many alcoholics think in early sobriety is “how will I have fun while I’m sober?” Never mind how miserable we were before we decided to get into the program, drugs and alcohol were such a major part of our lives that we simply can’t imagine what to do with all the time saved not going into benders.
As with most of the cliched AA phrases, the phrase “we are not a glum lot” is cliched because it’s true. In this article, we will explore sober activities.
Staying Sober at Home
Among the litany of things changed by the COVID-19 Pandemic has been people’s social lives. For alcoholics and addicts across the globe, this meant the closing of in-person meeting spaces, leaving us with plenty of time alone with our own mind, a dangerous thing for an addict/alcoholic to be alone with. Luckily, we live in the time of the internet and AA/NA meetings were able to continue online.
However, as fantastic as online AA/NA meetings are, they’re far from the only activity you can do at home. Other activities you can do are:
- Exercise: Try going for a nice jog to get in shape and clear your mind. It doesn’t have to be 12 miles, maybe a quick 2-mile jog. Maybe try going for a nice bike ride on one of the numerous trails in the city and metro area. Try yoga for a nice, balanced workout. You can even go for a nice long walk.
- Outdoor Activities: Go for a hike in Forest Park, Washington Park, Tryon Creek State Park, Mt Tabor, or Powell Butte.
- Art: Find a creative outlet at home, be it painting, drawing, cross-stitching, pottery, sculpting statues out of marble, whatever creative outlet you want, you can do it at home.
- Movies/TV: Watch some movies or binge a show on Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max or any other streaming service.
- Reading: Spend some relaxing quiet time with a nice book.
Sober Group Activities
Among the biggest changes we see when we become sober is the change in our group dynamics. We often centered group activities around drinking and using so it’s hard to imagine group activities that have nothing to do with either of those things. But don’t worry, there are plenty of group activities that can be done free of alcohol or drugs.
Sports-based activities can help you stay in shape and provide a healthy outlet for energy. Among the dozens of gyms in the city is the Recovery Gym, a gym that partners with the Alano Club to provide fitness classes and facilities exclusively to people in recovery. It’s a great way to meet other people who are in recovery.
If you’re into team sports, the Portland Metro Area has plenty of adult sport leagues. There’s Rose City Futsal for indoor soccer, there are adult softball leagues, adult kickball leagues, flag football leagues, basketball leagues, ultimate frisbee leagues, any sport you can think of, there’s probably an adult league for it, apart from maybe Cricket because this is the United States, and no one knows how to play that game here. But hey, if you want to start it and teach people while sober, go for it.
If you’re into live sports, Timbers and Thorns games are always fun. Though I would recommend you avoid sitting in the Timbers Army/Rose City Riveter section if you’re new in sobriety. Blazers games are another fun sports-viewing activity.
If you’re not into sports, there are more outdoor activities in this state than I can list in this blog post. Try going for a hike with a group of friends, grab a few kayaks and kayak on the Columbia or Willamette River, or go on a weekend trip to one of the places listed in the next section.
When the weather turns cold and rainy, try indoor activities with friends. A game night, going to dinner, or even hanging out and watching movies. All fun activities you can do with people in recovery that don’t involve drugs or alcohol.
Weekend Sober Activities
At the risk of sounding like a Travel Oregon advertisement rather than a recovery blog, Oregon and SW Washington are both loaded with fun places to go on a weekend trip.
Here are some of the most notable fun weekend trips.
Columbia River Gorge
Travel east on I-84 and take in the scenery of the Columbia River Gorge and you’ll find a plethora of fantastic hiking trails with several pretty waterfalls, including (most famously) Multnomah Falls.
Cannon Beach/Ecola Beach State Park
The Oregon coast is gorgeous with ample beaches, hiking areas, and campsites, but Cannon Beach and Ecola Beach State Park are among the prettiest areas of the coast and only 90 minutes away from Portland.
This is a broad area, since I’m limited in the word count I’ll list activities:
- Go hiking, backpacking or camping in the breathtaking wilderness areas like the Three Sisters Wilderness Area, Smith Rock State Park, Newberry National Volcanic Monument, Tumalo Falls, and others
- Go whitewater rafting on the Deschutes or Mackenzie Rivers
- Go skiing on Mt Bachelor
You name the mountain-based outdoor activity, you’ll find it in Bend, Sisters, and the surrounding areas.
Mt St. Helens
Just under two hours north of the city you can see visit and hike around Mt St. Helens. On May 18th, 1980, the entire north face of the mountain collapsed in a massive eruption that spread ash across the western US, leaving a crater where the north face once stood. It’s a fascinating area to hike through.
Remember how I talked about the 1980 Mt. St Helens eruption above? The eruption that formed this lake was 40 times larger than that and left the deepest lake in the United States with incredible deep blue waters. It’s 4.5 hours south of Portland, so it’s a bit of a drive, but it’s well worth it. I recommend going in April or May when there’s still snow on the ground but most of the roads are open.
McKenzie Pass/Dee Wright Observatory
Around four hours from Portland and only open for cars from July through November, this is a gorgeous mountain pass that features massive lava fields at the summit (a massive, alien-looking field of black rocks that were lava). Nearby the above-mentioned Central Oregon sites.
The tallest mountain in the state with ski slopes, hiking, and camping.
Too Many Scenic Places to List in one article:
- Travel Oregon is a good resource for activities in the state
- Atlas Obscura also has a list of interesting places in Oregon
Oregon Trail Recovery Can Help
Oregon Trail Recovery can give you a good foothold in sobriety and allow you to enjoy the above-mentioned activities. Our programs not only give you access to trained counselors and housing, they give you new sober friends.
AA isn’t only a place for recovery, it’s a place for comradery. You can grow a great network of sober friends by participating in meetings, working with a sponsor, and getting a service position.
As was said earlier, are not a glum lot. There is plenty of fun to be had in recovery.